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Hurricane Nicole makes landfall in Florida

Hurricane Nicole made landfall on Florida’s Atlantic coast just south of Vero Beach early Thursday, officials said.

The hurricane made landfall at around 3 a.m. EST on the east coast of the Florida peninsula on North Hutchinson Island, with sustained winds estimated to be around 75 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

Hurricane warnings had covered Florida’s coast from Boca Raton to the county line between Flagler and Volusia counties, which is northeast of Orlando, in advance of the storm’s landfall.

The hurricane could also bring storm surge of 3 to 5 feet in some areas and 3 to 5 inches of rain, forecasters said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said 600 National Guard members have been activated and 16,000 utility workers were on standby. A state of emergency was declared for 45 of the state’s counties.

By 3 a.m. Thursday, more than 57,500 customers were without electricity in the state, according to outage-tracking website poweroutage.us.

Hurricane Nicole approaches the Florida coast on Nov. 10, 2022. NOAA

Officials in Volusia, Palm Beach, and Flagler counties issued mandatory evacuation orders for some areas ahead of the storm.

In St. Lucie County, bridges to the barrier island would be closed Wednesday, although people wanting to leave would be allowed, officials said. Bridges in Daytona Beach were also closed.

St. Lucie County officials urged people on the barrier island and in some low-lying areas to evacuate, and for everyone to take the hurricane seriously.

Wednesday afternoon, boat ramps were underwater and there was already flooding as the storm approached, Deputy County Administrator Mark Satterlee said.

“We haven’t even had any rain yet. So we’re really concerned about the amount of flooding that we’re going to see in the eastern part of the county,” Satterlee said at a news conference Wednesday.

Conditions were expected to worsen Wednesday night, he said. Late Wednesday, tropical storm-force winds extended up to 485 miles outward, according to the hurricane center.

Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump’s club and home, is in one of the evacuation zones, built about a quarter-mile inland from the ocean. The main buildings sit on a small rise about 15 feet above sea level and the property has survived numerous stronger hurricanes since it was built nearly a century ago, The Associated Press reported.

In Florida, rain and coastal flooding were starting to be felt Wednesday, before the storm made landfall.

Video posted on social media by the sheriff’s office in Martin County showed waves buffeting a causeway Wednesday night.

A weather station in Sebastian Inlet, which is on a barrier island south of Melbourne, recorded 48-mph winds and a gust of 66 mph shortly before midnight Wednesday, it said.

The Fort Pierce Utilities Authority said late Wednesday it had to halt power restoration efforts due to high winds, and crews would not be able to resume until they fell to below 35 mph.

Nicole made landfall on Wednesday on Grand Bahama Island, less than 100 miles east of Florida. Extensive flooding, downed trees and power and water outages were reported in the archipelago’s northwest region.

After striking Florida, Nicole is expected to move over central and northern Florida and into southern Georgia on Thursday and Thursday night, forecasters said, before moving into the Carolinas.

Nicole struck Florida as a hurricane about six weeks after Hurricane Ian hit the state as a Category 4 hurricane.

That storm made landfall on the opposite side of Florida, near Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast, on Sept. 28, and traveled across the state to the Atlantic. Ian was one of the most powerful hurricanes to strike the state in recorded history.

The Associated Press contributed.

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